Today, I’m thrilled to be joined by Melissa Kuch. Her debut novel, The Hypothesis of Giants, Book One: The Assumption, is out now. I hope you enjoy learning about her life-long writing journey.
I started writing even before I knew how to write. I recall being maybe three or four years old and drawing pictures on colored sheets of construction paper. I then would ask my older sister, who was two years older than myself and had already mastered Kindergarten, to translate my story. I would speak and she would write beneath my stick-figured crayon drawings. I still have some of those original stories, and even my first real story that I wrote, inspired by my third-grade teacher Mrs. Dawber. She hosted an author reading, and my parents came to the school cafeteria. Mrs. Dawber had a punch bowl set-up on the back table with light refreshments. Then nervously each of the members of the third grade class took their turn reading their story. I was the last one, since mine was the longest, and when I finished I felt so happy and so proud. I knew at that moment I wanted to be a writer. About twenty years later here I am but I never forgot that moment, and Mrs. Dawber. I dedicated my debut novel to her.
2. Are you a pantser or a planner?
A little bit of both and I truly believe both are very important writing styles. However, I have to admit that through most of my years writing as a pantser, I would always get stuck and put the novel down since I would get lost or hate the direction the novel was headed in. So that’s why I think I stopped writing fiction and moved to playwriting for most of my twenties. One-act plays were a perfect balance for me where I could just get in the moment, focus on a scene, and then start writing dialogue. However, writing fiction (and especially a series) it is imperative to have a plan of some sort. For The Hypothesis of Giants I did write a plan, even jotting ideas down on a napkin at an Italian festival on Long Island. I plotted out the journey that the characters would go on. However, even with this direction, the imagination is like the ocean waves, ebbing and flowing and taking you in a direction you never knew existed until you were there. For example, I didn’t know that the characters would head to Plymouth Tartarus until I realized I had set it up for them to go to this undersea rebellion at the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean. And what was down there came naturally based on the characters I had created and the type of conflict that I had subconsciously been setting up without realizing it. But thankfully I knew how I needed to end the novel and instead of falling into the trap of getting side-tracked and lost, having that initial direction lead me eventually to the end of the book; leading me there in a way I never imagined when I first sat down to embark on this story. That’s why I advise any writer to be open-minded and sometimes if you get in the zone, go with it. Don’t hold back. You can always save it as a different version and go back to the original version if you want. But sometimes let the story tell itself. Be the median and let your fingers do the typing.
3. Can you give us an idea of your writing process?
I honestly don’t have a writing process, just wish I had more hours in the day to write. After I published this book, I had co-workers and friends come up to me and ask me how do I have time to write a book while working full-time? I answer, that you make time when you are doing something you love to do. For some people, they come home from work and watch TV or stay out an extra hour at happy hour. For me, I love writing and I make time, sometimes staying up till 2am on a weeknight because I don’t want to stop and risk losing my train of thought. I am not a morning person, though I do know some people who prefer writing prior to going to work. I am more of a night owl. But I will say that I always carry a pad of paper and a pen with me. I absolutely recommend this. You never know when inspiration will hit. I wrote some of my best ideas while crammed and riding the F train in the morning or coming home. Ideas hit you from unexpected places and you have to write it down or else you will forget. I once was struck with one of these moments, and this was one of those days when I left my pen and paper in my other purse. I thankfully have an iPhone and started just writing things in the notepad section like I was writing a grocery list of ideas. Thankfully I did because what I jotted down helped inspire me to write a new novel that is in the works as we speak.
4. Which authors have influenced your work?
This is always a tough question for me because I love so many books and authors. But I would have to say that I love Jane Austen’s novels and have always loved a strong female heroin. I think that’s why Pride & Prejudice resonates with me and the strong character of Elizabeth Bennett. I also think C.S. Lewis and J.K Rowling are extraordinary writers who created a new and magical world that you just yearn to be a part of it. Their stories, as much as they are fantasy, also entice the reader to think and question the world we are living in. Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged, Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451 and Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird each have themes which resonate even after the reader has closed that final page. I feel that writing should help to not only entertain but to inspire readers to take off the blinders and see the world a little differently.
5. What are you plans/future projects/new releases that we should be aware of?
I have recently published the first book in The Hypothesis of Giants series, The Assumption. This young adult fantasy novel is now available on Amazon in both paperback and E-book format. I currently am working on editing The Change Agent, Book Two of the series and am looking to release this in early 2014. In addition to that book, I am also working on a new Young Adult novel as well as a middle-grade story. I can’t wait to share those other stories with you all.
6. Any tips for new writers?
Don’t give up and don’t let fear get in the way of achieving your dreams. I was afraid to try to get my work out there, though I believed in the story, but was afraid to share it with the world. I realized the only person really stopping me was myself, and once I realized that and kicked myself in the butt, I knew anything was possible. It’s a lot of hard work, and there is self doubt along the way, but keep trudging (kicking, screaming and crying) toward that finish line. Like my cousin Maggie told me, the best book is yet to be written— so keep writing and may this be the start of a long and successful writing career. My husband, my number one supporter and fan, reminds me that success has different meanings to different people. Find out what it means to you and go for it!
7. Any tips for old writers?
Continue to inspire the new generation of writers. I was so sad to hear that many school districts are considering cutting English, Art and Literature courses from the curriculum. I believe it is critical for the future generations to voice their opinions and thoughts through an artistic way of expression, whether it is through art, music and/or literature. I encourage all experienced and impassioned writers to continue to show the new writers of tomorrow the importance of the written word and that the journey of the imagination is filled with endless possibilities.